Hide this page

Vaginal infections

Vaginal infections are also called vaginitis or fungal infections. They aren’t considered to be BBSTIs but some of them can be transmitted sexually.

There are several types of vaginal infections. The most common are candida infection (or fungal vaginitis, often called a yeast infection), bacterial vaginosis, and trichomonas infection. They’re very common. About 75% of women will have at least one vaginal infection during their lives.

Transmission and prevention

Vaginitis can be caused by various things:

Vaginitis can be caused by various things:

  • taking antibiotics or oral contraceptives
  • pregnancy
  • diabetes
  • acidic soap, highly perfumed soap, or bubble bath
  • vaginal douches and vaginal perfumes or deodorants
  • scented sanitary napkins or tampons
  • overly tight clothing
  • panties made of synthetic fabric
  • wearing wet clothes for a long time (for example, bathing suit)
  • sexual contact with an infected person (for some kinds of vaginitis)


Symptoms vary from one person to another and depending on the type of vaginal infection. They may hide another BBSTI (chlamydia or gonorrhea).

In general, vaginitis can cause:

  • vaginal itching and irritation
  • abnormal vaginal discharge
  • swelling of the external or internal genitals
  • redness of the external or internal genitals
  • burning feeling while urinating
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • unpleasant odours

Screening and treatment 🔍

Screening is done during a gynecological exam for women or a urogenital exam for men. Screening tests can’t be done during menstruation.

It’s important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. The symptoms of candida infection and bacterial vaginosis are very similar but their treatments are different. For example, an antifungal cream won’t have any effect on bacterial vaginosis. Worse still, it can mask the symptoms and make the infection last longer.

You have to take the full treatment the doctor prescribes, even if your symptoms disappear.